My dad only completed the sixth grade in school. He became the primary breadwinner in his family of five sisters at age fifteen when his father died. His was a hard life of 84 years.
He was a farmer, textile mill worker, and handyman. His life was defined by hard work, unquestioned honesty, no pretense, and stubborn perseverance. Though not demonstrably affectionate or complimentary of his kids, we never doubted his love for us or our mother.
He adored our mother and treated all women with respect. He never considered himself better than anyone else; and he was totally unimpressed by titles, wealth, or positions of authority.
Though he was a man of few words, some of his messages formed me. Here is one of them.
“If a bully picks on your brothers or sister, he’s picking on you. So, help your sister or brother.” As tenant farmers, we moved around. Schoolyard bullies often tested the new kids. The first days in a new school were frightening. One of us usually got pushed around by a “tough guy.”
There were four of us Carders, three boys and a girl. Dad’s admonition worked! It didn’t take but one encounter for the bullies to learn — jump one Carder and you’re up against four. My sister, by the way, was the one most feared!
The world is full of bullies in high and low places. They are bullying and exploiting the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the homeless, the immigrants, LGBTQ+ colleagues, the powerless, the vulnerable. They are bullying our brothers and sisters.
Resisting bullies and exploiters is a joint effort! The writer of Hebrews states it strongly:
“Keep loving each other like family. Don’t neglect to open your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it. Remember prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and people who are mistreated as if you were in their place”(13:1-3 CEV).
Dad was right: “If a bully picks on your brother or sister, he’s picking on you. So, help your sister or brother.”